I was grocery shopping when I bumped into a woman I see every morning while we’re out walking our dogs. I greeted her and she said, “I’m sorry. I can’t place you.” At first I thought she might be woozy from the heat, but then it occurred to me: She’s never seen me with my face on.

I said, “Imagine me with skimpy eyelashes, a half dozen blotches on my face and a few wiry hairs sprouting from my chin. Immediately she said, “Of course! You’re the woman who puts Kippy, my cocker spaniel, off his kibble.”

Guilty.

Without the help of Estee Lauder, a sander and a soldering iron, I look less than stunning. The older I get, the more challenging it is to be attractive, and my standards have sunk to new lows. I used to say to my stylist, “Make me look like a super model.” Now I say, “Can you make me look hotter than Keith Richard’s grandmother?”

Beauty rituals used to be so simple. Remember the days when a woman simply pinched her cheeks for color before going out? Or when a facelift was a do-it-yourself affair involving duct tape and fishing wire? No? Me either. But I do remember a time when you didn’t need a chemistry degree to look presentable.

Case in point: Recently I visited an esthetician and pointed out a wrinkle near my mouth. She said, “You have a couple of options: Fill it with hyaluronic acid or calcium hydroxylapatit. Whichever floats your boat.”

I said, “Could you elaborate? I was a liberal arts major.”

She frowned. “In that case I require payment in advance. And no checks.”

Hair care is equally complicated. I recently called my salon to make a color appointment and the receptionist said, “Demi-glaze, full ombre, partial ombre or baylage?”

I said, “I’ll have a dozen of the demi-glaze. And does the full ombre come with salsa and chips?”

These days you’re also supposed to be beautiful from head-to-toe. In recent years I’ve been grooming areas of my body I’ve never groomed before. I won’t elaborate, but let’s just say a Brazilian wax is not a candle imported from Rio de Janeiro.

Did my last paragraph make you wince? That’s because beauty and pain are kissing cousins. Remember when women were forced to wear corsets so tight they squashed our internal organs? No? Me either. But I have a pair of shoes I’ve nicknamed the toe impalers, and my eyelash curler has pinched me so many times, the mere sight of it makes me want to spill state secrets.

And yes, deep down I know these measures are superficial and that inner beauty is what really matters. In that spirit, instead of having the typical Facebook profile picture, I’ve posted an ultrasound of my spleen.

I’ve been told it’s quite lovely.

This article appears in the November-December 2016 issue of Augusta Magazine.

Have feedback or a story idea? Our publisher would love to hear from you!

12 + 4 =